It is very on trend to make vegetables the central ingredients on the plate. The centre of attention. Non veggie Bruno Loubet is doing it in London at The Grain Store and other top chefs were involved in creating a meat free week menu in London a few weeks ago. Though for Vegetarians our food especially In so called fine dining restaurants has always been about this. Stand up Vanilla Black in London.
The new venture led by chef Alex Claridge, Nomad offers this concept to meat eaters, where a smaller portion sits amongst fresh seasonal and foraged ingredients. Tit bits that form the centre piece of the dish, the journey, the experience. I’ve proclaimed the joys of the vegetarian long menu for ages, had the best food of my life at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel in the Lake District. Jewels on a plate, ingredients that make you think. You get the picture. For many this is a new experience, no huge slabs of meat, no pasta, no risotto, no potatoes (on this occasion) but pure joy in the ingredients and skill in which they were presented and yes tasted.
For vegetarians this is a vintage time, where chefs are suddenly more interested in ingredients, in foraging, in the produce.
Anyone who knows Alex’s food from Bistro 1847 and Warehouse cafe in Birmingham will know he can cook, boy can he cook. In this menu there aren’t many carbs, which is refreshing in that some vegetarian menus are heavy on them. Even more exciting is the fact that so many of the ingredients and techniques require to be looked up on the Internet. Love that. I suggest you do.
Nomad at present is a 3 month pop up from April-June. Based at The Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, a quirky venue that fits well I think. Alex is passionate about ingredients, about foraging and making you think when you eat. He aims to explore, memory, place, and nature though cooking, changing the menus weekly, even daily dependent on what’s current, what’s available, the weather.
The Vegetarian menu that I ate can be taken long 8 courses or short 5 courses. Priced £42 and £32.
Both Ruth and I chose the long menu, but Ruth the meat variation.
So to the food.
Moss, vinegar, old Winchester.
Two morsels of moss on a plate, though only one in the picture as Ruth ate it before I took the picture.😄 taken with Old Winchester cheese, on the hand, eaten simultaneously, lively flavoured slightly salty, very creative, lovely flavour and texture. Very exciting start.
Cauliflower three ways:
Aerated, pickled, and dehydrated. A stunning cacophony of flavours, beautifully presented, a cauliflower lovers dream dish. Contrasting techniques, demonstrating great skill. With a texture of Parmesan.
Fresh Ricotta in Herbs, roast lettuce
An incredible depth of flavour in this dish, loved the roasted lettuce and the ricotta balls were very tender, with a substantial degree of clever cooking. What I call a wowser dish.
Broccoli, sea herbs, yolk, dark beer.
My favourite dish. Pleasing to the eye and to the palette, delicate broccoli, with a heavenly yolk of egg with the herbs sea herbs textures. Mouth-wateringly good.
Mushroom, sunflower seed, gorse flowers.
A full flavour of mushrooms, the sunflower seeds have a back note of flavour that complimented the dish and had its own flavou that lingered in your mouth. The gorse flowers edible with a slightly almond taste and coconut aroma. A Beautiful dish. A close second for me.
Manouri in onion ash, beets, Apple, Dittander.
As a lover of beetroot i couldn’t go far wrong with this dish. The Manouri (Greek semi soft cheese) had a clean subtly nutty flavour, creamier than feta, but covered in this context with edible onion ash, yes ash, which I remember having at L’Enclume a few years ago. Which gave a complex bitter and smokey flavour to the Manouri. It worked well.
The Dittander, a damp coastal herb with a subtle mustard flavour lifted the dish and made the flavours and textures very enjoyable, And I can imagine Noma esque dish.
Lemon verbena, willow catkins, chestnut crumble.
The first of the two deserts, more pre desert in size, the dish had enjoyable flavours. The ingredients, superbly sourced and very enjoyable.
Carrot, cumin, honey, sea buckthorn parfait.
I wasn’t altogether sure of the carrot in this dish, but the flavours of honey and the cumin came through well. Technically superb, executed well. A mixed last dish, though had good flavours. Looked pretty.
Throughout the meal the service was excellent. Well informed, they explained the dishes and ingredients.
The Kitchen Garden cafe looked lovely, flowers on the table, well lit, and it felt romantic and at the same time relaxed.
The concept of Nomad is unique to Birmingham with the skill and high technique of the cooking leaving you satisfied and usurping many more high end establishments in the city for bravery and culinary flavours. For me it felt like going on a weird and wonderful vegetarian journey, with new ingredients to discover, and new tastes to experience around every corner. I learnt such a lot.
The foraged additions blended well with the veg, from ingredient to ingredient, not settled, or established, always searching, but ever encompassing and trusting.
That’s the ethos of Nomad.
And let’s be grateful for that.
A Gin martini at Fletchers
The Kitchen Garden Cafe
Ruth and I were invited to Nomad by Alex our meal was complimentary, but we paid for our wine. All opinions are honest and my own.
Thanks for reading.
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